The most recent recipient of the prestigious $10,000 Strauss Foundation Public Service Scholarship is Gregoria Barazandeh, a political science major who serves as a peer mentor, peer educator and student adviser for the Peer Educators.
Barazandeh received a call during spring quarter from Duncan Strauss, informing her she had received the award for creating the ‘Disability Fact Sheet Handbook’ which educates students on the disabilities that current UCI students have. The handbook also lists the proper accommodations and resources that are necessary in order to help people with disabilities.
Although most of the scholarship has been disbursed, the final $2,000 will be given to her when she completes all the criteria, including completing the project and carrying it out by April 2004, making a presentation to the Scholarship Foundation in Newport Beach, and remaining in the top third in her class. Barazandeh hopes to lessen the lack of awareness that students have about other students and faculty who suffer from disabilities.
‘I recognized the need to increase disability awareness, the need to diminish a lack of knowledge about disabilities and the need to provide an atmosphere that allows good communication and understanding between students with disabilities and faculty,’ Barazandeh said
Barazandeh will extend her project by conducting a workshop that will inform the Disabilities Services Center on how to further serve disabled students and faculty.
‘The workshop communicates how to provide a disability fact sheet and to each student, how to encourage students to be self-advocates by giving the fact sheets to their faculty and how to analyze faculty and student feedback so the fact sheet could be updated frequently,’ Barazandeh said.
Barazandeh’s handbook contains information on disabilities that many students on campus currently have. Each disability is explained in two-page fact sheets included in the handbook.
‘[This handbook] is a useful tool and much needed on campus,’ said Karen Myers, director of the Disability Service Center.
During the time between December and May, Barazandeh worked closely with Audrey Devore, director of UCI’s Scholarship and Opportunities Program. With Devore’s help, Barazandeh revised and reworked her public service project proposal.
The Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship was established by Strauss’ widow, Dorothy M. R. Strauss as a memorial to Donald A. Strauss. The Strauss scholarship awards $10,000 to college juniors who have worked on public service projects and will carry them out during their senior year.
The Strauss scholarship has been awarding money for the past seven years. It is set apart from other scholarships as a result of the high monetary value of the award and the demanding requirements that the recipient must fulfill in order to receive the award.
Donald Strauss was a member of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board for 10 years.
He was also a member of the Newport Beach City Council for 12 years, during which he served as mayor for one year. Strauss has endowed scholarships at UCI, Stanford University and Harvey Mudd College. He has also established summer internships at the University of Rhode Island and Stanford.
In addition to receiving the Strauss award, Barazandeh has been twice awarded the Town and Gown Scholarship, the Jack and Suzie Peltason Scholarship, the President’s Washington Scholarship three times and a SURP grant.
Barazandeh plans to serve on the Social Sciences Ambassador Council, the UROP student advisory board and the UROP editorial board. She also plans to continue her work as a student advisor for Peer Educators, Peer Mentor and Disability Services Peer Educator.
After graduation, Barazandeh said she will commit herself to continuing the task of broadening the awareness of disabilities.
‘I will work toward achieving equal opportunities, improving health care and developing a more responsive and equitable health care system for people with disability, particularly those with chronic pain who need better representation and legal change,’ Barazandeh said.